was born a Nigerian, and then arrived in the United States of America and decided to become an American. I have written Nigeria off as a nation not worth fighting for, dying to salvage, unworthy of one's investment, time, efforts and resources. To me, Nigeria is a failing state, perennially prostrate and incapable of re-inventing itself. It is a house that has completely fallen except divine intervention put the kibosh on its eventual disintegration. This is what informed my complete insouciance to the charade currently going on in this lost nation.
Only a masochist will continuously put himself and his family through the hellish ambience of the furnace called Nigeria. How one can abandon a life of abundance and continue to risk a cause that almost took one's life is a question I will ask my good friend Kayode Fayemi, the AC Governorship Candidate, if he is able to pull off his current efforts at reclaiming his stolen gubernatorial mandate in the re-do election in Ekiti State. Why he left Great Britain with his family to play politics in Nigeria beats me hollow!
You see, I know Kayode very well. We were undergraduate classmates at the University of Lagos in the late 1980s. He was a strong-willed individual but shy to a fault. While many of his colleagues in the Department of History openly participated in student's union politics, Fayemi was a silent operator with strong ideological will. He was one of my supporters in those days which catapulted me into office as the then president of the University of Lagos Student Union (ULSU). His support for me was disguised yet no one could question his progressive credential.
At the New Hall comprising Eni-Njoku and Makama Bida Halls which we both shared, we would stay awake till the wee hours of the night discussing politics and how to fix our nation after graduation. We were many: Tokumbo Afikuyomi, Action Congress Senator and current Commissioner for Tourism and Intergovernmental Relations, Lagos State, Dayo "Aluta" Onabanjo, Abubakar Momoh,(now a professor at LASU), Ade' Ade, Anthony Kayode, the late Bala Mohammed of Bayero University, Kano; Bola Awoniran, Abdul Ganiyu, Biodun Showumi, Remi Agara, Sina Awelewa, Lekan Otufodunrin, Samuel Aiyebola, Niyi Akinsiju, Godson Echegile, Eguabor now in Japan, Akiseye-George, late Bisi Kolade and so many others would gather at the front of the New Halls which was our Mar's Hill.
Most of our discourse centered on Marxism, the place of Nigeria in the world, campus politics, indeed every issue under the sun. We were all idealistic striplings rubbing minds about our future roles in Nigeria. Those were the days before cults took over Nigerian universities. The "cults" I knew of during my years at that beautiful citadel were intellectualized dyads of both like minds and political enemies engaged in serious intellectual exercise exhibited with passion, laced with oratorical prowess, flawless linguistic delivery and transparent moeurs completely devoid of fisticuffs. From New Halls at times, we would head for Mariere, Jaja, or El-Kanemi where the discussions continued. After graduation, Kayode and I missed working together for Uncle Sonala Olumhense at the City Tempo newspaper, Ikeja, Lagos. Then he left for England and we lost contact.
In the tempestuous years of Nigeria's military schizoid, the late Sani Abacha when few of us put our lives on the line to confront that cretin, Bola Tinubu, Kayode Fayemi, Tokuboh Afikuyomi, Alani Akinrinade, Ms. Alice Ukoko-Ugono, John Oyegun, Dele Momodu, and few others under the aegis of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) stuck their necks out in England and greatly added fillip to our struggle within Nigeria to wrest the nation from the Luciferous fangs of Abacha and his military thugs. After my cup runneth over in 1996 while publishing the samizdat called Razor and was subsequently compelled to relocate to Benin Republic, Fayemi and Ilemakin Soyinka-son of Nobel Laureate, our own William Shakespeare- Wole Soyinka-were only a handful that paid a visit to my first wife and family in Cotonou after I was kidnapped by the murderous Abacha regime. Another good friend, Bunmi Aborisade, editor of the defunct June 12 magazine who had equally relocated to Ghana accompanied the duo from Accra, Ghana to Cotonou, Benin. A friend who reached out when one was in the valley by risking his own safety is a good friend indeed.
I know Kayode is propelled by altruistic motives for offering himself to the good people of Ekiti State as their governor. There is no doubt that he would do a good job as that state's chief executive but my worry is that, will he be allowed by the notorious rigging machinery of Pindi Pi (PDP)? I have always known him as a gentleman, soft-spoken and cerebral fellow unsuited to the gangland politics of Ekiti and Nigeria. No one legitimately and legally living comfortably for appreciable number of years in the United States or Great Britain would be able to play the politics of fire, thunder, brimstone and death associated with Nigeria. It is the type of politics the locals called "Cash "n' Karry," or "Ghana Must Go," completely devoid of ideas, legitimate dissent and ways to solve fundamental issues confronting the people. To be a politician in Nigeria today, you need to hire retinue of bodyguards to protect you, phalanx of goons and hangers-on to sing your praise and free money to buy loyalty from self-appointed political muckety -mucks. Although party manifestoes and promises are dished out to the people on the hustings, the mechanisms to fulfill such promises are convoluted.
Assuming one is genuinely motivated to get involved in this dirty game, how opposition groups comply with the rules of the game is another harrowing experience. Disagreements are normal in political contests where various ideas are allowed to percolate thus allowing the voters to make up their minds among competing ideas but Nigerians are over the top in elevating such basic civic exercise into ambush, assassination and liquidation Elections are rigged shamefacedly and the party in control muzzles the opposition through state machinery. An opposing party, fearing that injustice has been perpetrated goes to court to challenge re-jiggered elections; it loses again because the judiciary which is supposed to be impartial has suddenly turned itself into the party in power. In short, politics in Nigeria is war, literarily. For a born-again Christian like me, I am not cut out for that kind of rancorous and raucous game anymore.
But in the last couple of months, the Nigerian judiciary is asserting its role as dispenser of justice. Election riggers are in for a hard time and if the people of Ekiti State can complement these judicial efforts, perhaps Nigeria may be re-invented and brought back to life like the proverbial Phoenix who rose from its ashes to the consternation of incurable pessimists like us on the outside.
Nigerians continue to clamor for the dividends of democracy but Nigerians and indeed the people of Ekiti State should not suffer collective amnesia to forget that Kayode Fayemi was one of the biggest investors in the current Nigerian democratic project. He needs to be rewarded with an opportunity to serve his nation which he still believes in. Ekiti people, do the right thing, elect Kayode Fayemi as your governor in this re-do. There are only few Nigerians that I can vouch for as decent men and women offering themselves for public service. He is one of them.